May 17, 2009
will witness the inauguration of a controversial new road across the Western Lagoon that will take farmers to the Blackburn Area. Crooked Tree Village
This new road is a battle between the environment and development in the Crooked Tree Village Wildlife Sanctuary. In April of last year there was a dispute between the Area Rep. Hon. Edmond Castro and the Belize Audubon Society over the aforementioned road.
The construction of this similar 1.7 mile road has been the source of significant controversy. The Belize Rural North Area Representative claims that the people have been suffering for a long time and this road will give some of the villager’s access to their farm lands and pasture across the Western Lagoon.
Last year was perhaps the lowest point in the long relationship between Belize Audubon Society and
The Audubon Society said the second road was even less well-planned, and it could be a disaster for the entire lagoon. The Belize Audubon Society said that they are not against progress, but a proper environmental impact assessment was not completed and a lot of community goodwill was sacrificed in the process.
A significant number of people in
Despite its importance for the people and the environment the future of Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary is under threat. The increasing pressure for development and land clearing is reducing the ability of the wetland to carry out its important role of flood control and water filtering. If this trend continues there is a serious risk that the wetland won’t be able to protect the land and the people of
Protecting the CTWS does not mean that development cannot take place. There should be a solution in striking the right balance between people and wildlife. For example, some of the farmers could retain some of the big trees while clearing the land and leaving a strip of the forest between properties no less than 60 feet from the lagoon. By doing this, it will ensure that the wetland can continue to function and everyone can profit from development.